To begin with it seems that James McTeigue’s Survivor is going to be an elusive crime thriller that keeps the audience on their toes, constantly guessing which way the narrative will turn. However what sadly transpires is an all too generic cat and mouse chase that offers absolutely nothing we haven’t seen before.
Milla Jovovich plays Kate Abbott, a State Department employer recently assigned to the American Embassy in London. It’s her job to ensure that terrorists aren’t allowed onto US soil – but when she questions the legitimacy of a Romanian doctor, she inadvertently becomes embroiled in a web of corruption, concerning people she certainly hadn’t expected it to. Without realising, her actions are threatening a planned terrorist attack on New York City, and so the feared assassin Nash (Pierce Brosnan) has been tasked with taking care of her – but she is a far more formidable adversary than he had given her credit for.
Abiding, frustratingly, by genre conventions, Survivor is a film devoid of any true identity, with such an unbearable inclination for cliché. It’s a shame that this be the case, as we move carelessly away from the more intriguing, corruption-led political themes. However, thankfully, what saves this production from being a complete disaster, is the antagonist – as while the narrative takes a turn for the predictable, we’re still left with a villain who is anything but. Brosnan’s performance is somewhat hammy, but he remains hard to figure out. That said, much of that derives from our own expectation, and perception of the actor – we’re so used to seeing him play the hero, that we’re forever waiting for that to transpire in this instance too. It’s a notion perpetuated by the director however, who gives equal billing to Nash and to the protagonist, Kate – which is seldom seen in thrillers of this ilk. Brosnan is one of many accomplished performers who feature in this production, as even the supporting roles fall into the laps of the likes of Frances de la Tour, Robert Forster, Angela Bassett, James D’Arcy and Dylan McDermott. Though attempting to figure out quite why any of them signed on for this underwhelming project, proves to be a greater mystery than the supposed, enigmatic narrative.
Feeling like an advert for the London tourist board at times – Survivor is a film we’ve seen many, many times before. While there is some sense of comfortability about that, it remains really damn frustrating all the same, to see a potentially compelling story told in such a hackneyed, generic fashion. Give this one a miss.